SCULPTURE / PHOTOGRAPHY / DRAWINGS

HUMA MULJI :: BIO :: MAIN :: BIBLIOGRAPHY

hmulji@yahoo.com

 

Notes on the work
Complete CV

HUMA MULJI
NOTES ON SELECTED WORKS- 2013-2008

The primary catalyst for my work continues to be the city in all its manifestations, which serve as inspiration towards conceptual as well as formal decisions in the work. Playing with the absurdities and conflicts of living in an urban society in transition, the works broadly address visual and cultural overlaps and collisions of language, image and taste. Looking at this phenomenon with humor, my works aim towards an irony that is both formally and conceptually, surreal.

I explore the possibilities of “making” in Pakistan, of low-tech methods of fabrication, together with exquisite traditional crafts; materials and forms that come from another time, or those that are “imported”, “newly discovered” or “re-appropriated”.

Noor

Noor

Inkjet Print on Hahnemühle photorag and laser cut acrylic sheet, 2012.
Study Of Perspective

Study of Perspective (After Ai Wei Wei)

Inkjet Print on Hahnemühle photorag and laser cut acrylic sheet, 2012.

Study of Perspective (After Ai Wei Wei)  and Noor are an alliance with Ai’s iconoclastic series of snapshots which form his individual rebuttals of the architectures of power, and are the ground from which the works spring. His symbolic use of the draughtsman’s method of sighting perspective is here translated into the vertical form of the minaret as well as the parallel interpretation of ‘perspective’ as point of view. Noor, literally meaning “light”, formally employs reflection as a subject , as well as ironically interpreting it as the source of spiritual light. The subjects are derived from visual and spatial environments in contemporary urban Lahore where such institutions are often set in prohibited proximity to neighbouring buildings and where these architectures of religious, political, economic authority and arrogance abound. This often results in fantastical visual juxtapositions played out upon the otherwise modern facades of commercial buildings. The modern architect’s proclivity for glass facades creates myriad unexpected reflections of reflections that disrupt the certainty of reality and any factual “perspective”.  They serve to reflect a viewer’s gaze back, and to dematerialize the physical certainty of the subject. The ghastly, dystopian confusion of power distribution cables in Study of Perspective and the concrete details, lampposts and security grille in Noor, interrupt the otherwise attempted grandeur and sheer visual bling of these edifices.

Lost & Found

Lost and Found

Fiberglass and buffalo hide, 2012.

L&F(Detail)

Detail

Lost and Found has an art historical and social legacy that includes Henry Moore’s Fallen Warrior, the 2003 demolition of Saddam Hussein’s Firdos square statue, Marc Quinn’s Alison Lapper Pregnant, the numberless victims of state violence in Pakistan, who’s tortured bodies have been found across the country for years, the unclaimed dead bodies that find their way to hospitals and medical college dissection tables, and notions of ageing, loneliness, hunger, humiliation, as they manifest themselves on the human body. The image is primarily drawn from David Alesworth’s photograph: “Criminal Autopsy” from 2010.

The work also draws on my previous taxidermy works that often made use of Pakistan's ubiquitous water buffalo. However, there is much else the work dialogues with, some of it describable as anecdotes of the world I inhabit, and some of it a little more difficult to turn tales from. The image is commonplace and haunting, the more detail you know; the more difficult it gets to tell it again and again. And yet, there are many who do tell it, in all its nuances, particularly within contemporary literature. This is the story of the body of a man found in the canal that all inhabitants of Lahore love so much.”

Sanctury

Sanctuary

Laser cut mirror acrylic,  adhesives, steel reinforcement, 2011.

Sanctuary(Detail)

Detail

Obscured Horizon

Obscured Horizon

Inkjet print on Hahnemühle photorag, inkjet print on vinyl, laser cut acrylic, 2011.

When Boys Cameout To Play

When the boys came out to play…..

Inkjet print on Hahnemühle photorag, inkjet print on vinyl, laser cut acrylic, 2011.

Sealed Deal

Sealed Deal

Inkjet print on Hahnemühle photorag, inkjet print on vinyl, laser cut acrylic, 2011.

Like the earlier works, Sanctuary and the following works comment on architectures of fear and insecurity in the context of contemporary urban cities, particularly Pakistan. As walls go up, gates are installed, public spaces diminish, inhabitants recede indoors. Playing on this psychology of fear, streets erect check-posts for area residents, buildings install barriers,  parks become exclusive to members of a particular social class, polarizing the cities and its inhabitants more than ever before. The photographic works  (below) are overlaid with almost lace-like grilles, rendered close to invisible. The strategy suggests visual access and a physical barricade, albeit fragile, a state of captivity and sanctuary simultaneously. Here too, visibility depends on the viewing position, between absolute perception of the space or absolute perception of the boundary. Each of the photographs are otherwise abandoned communal spaces, partly concealed through the building of new fencing.

The Lampost

The Lamppost that got accidentally destroyed in the enthusiastic widening of Canal Bank Road

Lamppost,  flickering fluorescent tubes, wires, electricity and related electrical parts, concrete cube, paint, 2011,

The Lampost(detail)

Detail

The installation, Ode to the lamppost that got accidently removed in the enthusiastic widening of Canal Bank road, recognises the loss of life, and pays homage to what no longer exists, nostalgically, but also as recognition of the brutality of time.

Ode to Tube Light

Ode to a tubelight

Enamel Paint and Mixed media, adhesives and wood on Canvas,2011.

Ode To Tubelight

Detail

Ode to a Tubelight, Ode to a Window AC, Hotel Jabees Room 404 and Sparrow, were part of a body of work collectively titled Twilight, exhibited at Project 88 in Mumbai, India, in November 2011. These are anxiety ridden mixed media works, which play between painting and sculpture and speak of a highly localized emotional aesthetic of space and light, despite an otherwise tranquil air of nostalgia. Twilight is the vestige of a day, a slow approaching of the end of time and the suspension of all optimism – there is a quiet but momentous decline into a complete atrophy of the “functional” and an implication of urban ennui and dystopia. The works however resonate with ironic and farcical juxtapositions of the wearing down of metropolitan glitter and spectacle.

Hotel Jabees

Hotel Jabees, Room 404

Carpet, Adhesives , chewing gum and cockroaches on MDF, 2011.

 

Ode to Window AC

Ode to a window AC

Enamel Paint, fabric, and mixed media on canvas, 2011.

Sparrow

Sparrow

Enamel Paint, Sheet Steel, taxidermy sparrow on board, 2011.

Sparrow(Detail)

Detail

Sparrow, painted in a single colour , is stark in its juxtaposition of a metallic bird of prey/drone/eagle ?, with the  vulnerability of the fragmented and scattered taxidermy sparrow. The work quietly hallucinates between life and death.

Memory Of A Blue Memory of a bBue(detail) Memory of a Pink Memory of a Pink(Detail)

Memory of a Pink, and Memory of a Blue were created in 2012, and deal with similar notions of despair, nostalgia and deterioration, signified through a very precise palette and unambiguous spatial arrangement. The exactness however, directs the reading of the work to a very specific time and place. Both these works reference interiors of public buildings in disrepair.

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace

MDF Board, Adhesives, Mirror and Glass, 2010.

Summer Afternoons

Summer Afternoons| Bedroom, Kitchen, Lounge

Laser cut acrylic sheet, 2010.

Summer Afternoons(Detail)

Detail

A Utopian ideal of technological triumph, the architecture of the Great Exhibition of 1851, Crystal Palace, in London, gives this work its title. The work also draws from the legend of the Queen of Sheba and Prophet Solomon from Abrahamic texts, of the glass palace replica of Sheba’s palace created by Solomon, raising questions of truth and illusion, of reflection and seduction and ultimate human aspirations.
Based on a model of the artists’ home, the work is primarily fragile, and vulnerable. Contradictorily, the home represents dreams of nesting, comfort, security and safety. The broken mirrored surface of the work reflects and distorts its environment entirely, looses itself in the reflection of the outside environment. The disorientation within the planes of the structure, as well as the active participation of Crystal Palace in looking back at the viewer, are important to the work in highlighting the complex division of truth and illusion. The broken glass too, questions notions of fragility and beauty, and the ephemeral nature of the home as a zone of security. 

Summer Afternoons | bedroom, kitchen and lounge, are three laser cut security grilles, installed in windows of most homes in the city; the ultimate barrier between the comfort and security of home and the anarchy and insecurity of the urban environment. Mesmerising as patterns, cast on walls by dappled light, fragile, and seemingly ephemeral, they visually lend a false sense of well-being.

Arabian Delight

Arabian Delight

Taxidermy camel, suitcase and mixed media, 2008.

Arabian Delight(Detail)

Detail

Arabian Delight was commissioned by the Pakistani Pavilion, ‘Desperately Seeking Paradise’, for Art Dubai 2008. The work addresses the decades of shifts and state manipulated “Arabisation” of Pakistan, from its identity as a South Asian country, to that aliened with the Middle East. The suitcase comments on the migration of construction workers, professionals, and other daily wage earners from the 1970s onwards, the smuggling of electronic goods, and other contraband consumer items, from the UAE to Pakistan in personal luggage; the trafficking of children as camel jockeys from Pakistan to the Arab world.

Heavenly Heights

Heavenly Heights

Taxidermy Buffalo, steel pylon , 2009.

Her Suburban Dream

Her Suburban Dream

Taxidermy Buffalo, duco painted steel pipe, Astroturf, 2009.

Heaveanly Heights and Her suburban Dream, both use taxidermy buffalo skin, to create similar surreal juxtapositions, where sculpturally, the volume of the buffalo suspended above human height, or the stretch of the buffalos neck, stuck in a concrete pipe, both play with belief/disbelief. The works also address borders: urban/rural, old/new, hope/despair and ultimately life/death. The primary muse continues to be a city in turmoil and economic flux.

SELECTED PHOTOGRAPHIC WORKS 2008-2009

Sumaira

Sumaira and Her Friends

Inkjet Print on Hahnemühle photorag, 2008.

Chai Pani

Chai Pani and Cigarette

Inkjet Print on Hahnemühle photorag, 2008.

White Cement

White Cement and Marble Dust

C-Type print on archival paper, 2009.

 

Housing Scheme

Housing Scheme

C-Type print on archival paper, 2009.